Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It's all in the shoes

Hey! I made it through an entire class tonight!

Well, almost all of it, but I did stay through to the end. I couldn't figure out the sequence of steps in the next-to-last exercise, and I skipped the jump "warm-up". But I did mostly get the petite allegro sequence, unlike about half the class. If we'd done it a few more times I think I would have been able to do it at speed rather than lagging just slightly behind the music.

Three students were wearing pointe shoes during barre, and two of them did the entire class wearing them. This is is becoming pretty common, where before this past fall it would be a rarity to have anyone. But that's not the reason for the title of this post.

I've mentioned before that there's another man who takes this class fairly regularly. He seems kinda unfamiliar with ballet, which is odd given that this is the notorious Beginner 2.75 class. I think he'd fit better into the Beginner I class Wednesday evenings where he'd get a better grounding in basic ballet without struggling with the complicated sequences we get. But he doesn't cause problems for us and the instructor is willing to work with him, so who am I to say otherwise.

Anyway... until tonight he's worn some sort of soft dance shoes, but with soles that make it obviously not ballet slippers. Tonight he was actually wearing real ballet slippers (Capezio Hanamis, I believe). Our instructor commented on this, and when she gave him a compliment on something a few minutes later I jokingly commented, "It's the shoes." After class she called him over to check their fit. She's never checked the fit of my shoes! In fact, I think the only time I recall her commenting on anyone's shoes was if they were pointes. Curious to hear what she was saying, I wandered over to eavesdrop. She wasn't aware that they were stretch fabric so I showed her mine. Shoes, that is. He wasn't aware there was any other kind, so when we got to the changing room I showed him my old canvas Capezio Romeos for comparison. That started a whole conversation about men's dancewear.

We talked a bit about mens tights: manufacturers, styles, etc. Then a bit about leg warmers. When I mentioned dance belts I got a blank look. Uh oh. Ladies, some of you may not be familiar with a men's dance belt. Think of thong underpants, but lightly padded for the same reason some women wear lightly padded bras: it gives a... umm... smoother appearance. Essential if you're a man wearing tights.

I also have a confession: I broke what until tonight has been a cardinal rule. I've always resisted the urge to make suggestions to another student, especially during class. It's not my place. Part of my professional job is teaching, which makes it hard to resist, but I always remind myself that I'm not qualified to teach ballet. Oh, I've politely asked a question of another student that happened to cause them to recognize that they were doing something they didn't realize they were doing, but I've left the instructing to the instructors. Even when it kills me to do it.

Tonight our gentleman with the new shoes was having trouble executing an assemblé en tournant — he kept landing on one foot then closing the other. He got a brief suggestion from the instructor but he didn't seem to catch on. I suggested to him that this was just an assemblé with a turn, but that didn't seem to have meaning. So I demonstrated a simple assemblé, and he seemed confused about the difference between what I did and what he did. I explained that an assemblé was a jump from one foot landing on two feet, and he needed to bring his legs together in the air rather than after landing. I'm not sure anyone ever explained an assemblé to him before because his face lit up. He tried one, and while it wasn't as clean as it could have been he seemed to have the concept.

As I said, I think this class is a bit beyond his level of experience. But he tries, and that counts for a lot when you're an adult. I just hope I'm not stepping on our instructor's toes; I'll probably mention it to her before class next time just to be sure. And I'm not going to make this a habit.

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